* Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed

The Black Mamba Boy of the title moves from Somalia (been there recently!) to Yemen, to Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan, Egypt, and Palestine, in search of his father at first, and eventually in search of a living — all the way to the UK. Although the hero is charming, especially as a young orphan, the story seems to be designed to highlight the ravages of World War II in Africa rather than a personal story. The Italian Fascists in Eritrea, check. The English presence in Kenya, check. Our hero on a British ship escorting Exodus 1947 (the ship laden with Jewish refugees bound for Palestine), check — and with it my internal quota of coincidences within a single plot runneth over.



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